Council Monday approved the 2017 budget and tax rate among other financial items.

Saanich passes 2017 budget and raises property tax revenues by 3.53 per cent

Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell said Saanich’s 2017 budget balances financial sustainability with service and infrastructure needs.

He made those comments Wednesday after council passed the five-year financial plan as well as the 2017 tax rate bylaw. Council Monday had given both documents three readings and Wednesday’s final passage paves the path for the District to mail out tax notices before the end of the month. Payment of taxes and annual homeowner grant applications are due on or before July, 4, 2017.

Citizens expect sustainability and the budget tries to respond to it, said Atwell in his remarks following passage of the financial tax plan and tax rate bylaw.

“This year, we have increased funding for critical resource requests to improve service levels whilst we continue to bolster our infrastructure through our strategic capital projects plan,” he said.

Key budget provisions include an increase of property tax revenue by 3.53 per cent to help pay for additional staff designed to improve administrative services. A Saanich release said the tax increase — which amounts to an additional $86 per year for residentail property owners — came after “careful” consideration.

Monday’s vote comes after several weeks of extensive, sometimes emotional budget discussions during which council ostensibly tried to reconcile two perhaps contradictory ambitions: add staff in the face of concerns about the efficiency of district staff, and the political desire to limit increases in revenue from property taxes.

At least two councillors, Coun. Fred Haynes and Coun. Colin Plant, publicly expressed frustrations about the final increase during earlier deliberations and called for additional measures to generate more revenue from commercial activity.

Residential properties account for 76 per cent of all property taxes, while businesses account for 23 per cent.

Overall, property taxes account for 42.3 per cent of all revenues. Fees and charges amount to almost 25 per cent of revenue, where other sources account for 28.7 per cent. Borrowing amounts to about 4.2 per cent of all revenues.

Provincial legislation requires the budget to be balanced. Figures for the $210,354,000 million budget peg operating revenue at $157,017,400 and capital revenue at $53,336,600. Net operating expenses amount to $137,179,200 and capital expenses at $73,174,800.